Business value is, indeed, the bottom line, and SAP vowed customers will see it. There will be the technical wins of eliminating data redundancies and collapsing separate transactional and analytic layers such that 3-terabyte systems will slim down to 1 terabyte or even less. But Snabe said SAP knows that customers want to see business-process comparisons, not technical stats or speeds and feeds.
"The moment you have the Business Suite on Hana, you can rethink processes in ways you could not before, and that's where we're seeing the benefits," he said.
The most obvious examples are long-running processes involving lots of data crunching, such as cash-management, price optimization or manufacturing resource planning. "Why would you plan daily or nightly if you can plan constantly," Snabe said. Using sports apparel manufacturer Under Armour as an example, he said real-time planning will bring responsiveness, such that it could turn on dime when one team or another wins a playoff game or one player or another wearing particular shoes or branded clothing makes a big play.
"These sorts of [triggers] drive demand the week after the game, not the month after, so you need constant planning to react quickly enough," he said.
Speed is the essence of Hana's appeal, but companies are anything but speedy when it comes to changing ERP landscapes. That's why SAP introduced the Hana Enterprise Cloud last week. SAP is trying to shorten the adoption curve by helping customers to move to Hana as a managed service. Indeed, many of those 100 customers in the Business Suite-on-Hana pipeline are now considering cloud deployment, according to SAP.
One such company is McLaren Group, the U.K.-based Formula One racing and electronics manufacturing company. McLaren had plans to replace multiple home-grown legacy systems with SAP ERP modules for manufacturing, HR, finance, CRM and more. Now that Hana Enterprise Cloud is available, it will host those deployments in SAP's data centers.
McLaren is also using Hana to correlate high-scale data streaming off of its race cars to design modeling data, air tunnel testing data and high-definition video of the race experience. This separate, analytic application will also move to the Hana Enterprise cloud.
McLaren CIO Stuart Birrell told me he's a lot more worried about the business changes his company faces in moving off legacy systems than he is about the technology changes. But he does admit that it does come down to trust when moving to a new platform.
"I've looked the people at SAP in the eye and asked them, 'Can you do it?'" Birrell said. "I wouldn't have done this if I didn't have trust in the people. Thus far they've been true to their word."
McLaren is a comparatively tiny, private company. At the other end of the spectrum is Deere, the $36 billion agricultural equipment manufacturer. SAP shared a video at Sapphire in which Derek Dyer, director of Global SAP Services at Deere, said his company was the first to move ERP to Hana, and he reported 70% to 90% improvements in process speeds. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank reported a 91% improvement in a key sales aggregation and order-fulfillment process.
These are cryptic initial accounts of ERP-on-Hana success. SAP customers responsible for keeping big companies running will no doubt want to see many more examples, much deeper detail on what's possible and extensive analysis of the cost-benefit proposition of this new platform.